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Why Mark Cuban is taking coding classes

JP Mangalindan
Chief Tech Correspondent

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban leads a busy life, but the billionaire investor says he still finds time to take coding classes online.

Cuban told Yahoo Finance Editor-in-Chief Andy Serwer in a recent interview he has taken several online courses to stay up-to-date on programming languages and evolving technologies, including machine learning. Doing so arguably makes him a savvier investor when some tech startups pitch him.

“I mean, I've been on Amazon doing the machine learning tutorials,” Cuban said. “Right now I'm going through… I've taken Python online classes.”

Cuban even said he keeps a “Machine Learning for Dummies” book in his bathroom at home.

“I just started JavaScript neural networks,” added Cuban, referring to computing systems that act similarly to biological neural networks and adapt to perform tasks. “There's a little tutorial where they've got most of the libraries ... And if you have a background in programming, it's not hard.”

Cuban’s comments on coding were part of an episode of Influencers with Andy Serwer, Yahoo Finance’s weekly interview series with some of the biggest names in business, politics, entertainment, sports, and academia.

For Cuban, the end goal is less about becoming a coding whiz and more about improving his general knowledge. Machine learning, for instance, which enables products and services to “learn” and perform tasks without requiring explicit instructions from programmers, is a technology already deployed across many areas. Google (GOOGGOOGL) search employs machine learning to present users with more relevant search results. Waymo, meanwhile, has said machine learning is vital for its self-driving systems to figure out a car’s surroundings and predict how nearby cars might behave.

“I'm not trying to be great at that [coding or machine learning], but I want to understand it so I understand all the nuanced elements of it and how it works so that I have an advantage,” Cuban explains.

It’s a smart move for the longtime startup investor, who has poured his money into more than 120 tech startups over the years, according to Crunchbase, as well as investing in hundreds of ventures as a host of “Shark Tank” since joining the popular TV show in 2012. Cuban also purchased the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks for $285 million in 2000 and co-founded 2929 Entertainment, a media and entertainment company, which counts film distributor Magnolia Pictures as a subsidiary.

In becoming proficient in online coding and tech like machine learning, Cuban can better understand the ins and outs of a startup’s technology when the startup pitches him — yet another way the prolific investor can stay ahead.

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